Scottish National Parks
With it's sparse population and extensive mountains, lochs and islands, it comes as a slight surprise that there are only two national parks in Scotland. However perhaps it's those very factors that mean that the wilds of Scotland don't really need the protection of national park status.
Making up in size what the national parks lack in numbers, the Cairngorms National Park is the largest in the UK and twice the area of the Lake District for instance. Covering a large part of the eastern Highlands, it contains more mountains, rare and sub-arctic habitats, ancient forests, rivers, lochs, wildlife hotspots, friendly villages and attractions than you could hope to explore in a lifetime. If you want to start on your ‘Munro bagging’, there are 55 within the National Park. Five of the UK’s six highest peaks are here, but there are summits that are within easy reach of beginners too. In winter, Aviemore is the UK's premier ski and snowboarding resort.
Mountains are far from the only draw in the Cairngorm though. Some of Scotland’s rarest wildlife roams the National Park, from the pine marten and ptarmigan to the elusive Scottish wildcat. Cycle paths, lower-level footpath networks and winding narrow roads almost devoid of traffic suit a wide range of interests and offer gentler ways to explore.
Further south in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, you'll uncover centuries of history, gaze out at breath-taking views, walk in the shadows of towering mountains and join in the many wild and wonderful outdoor adventures. This National Park is also handily convenient for Glasgow and Edinburgh so it's easy to mix wild country with a little urban culture.
Loch Lomond is the biggest expanse of inland water in Britain, but the National Park also contains another 21 lochs (and one lake) on which to have fun. Great places for swimming, sailing, paddling and windsurfing. Wildlife experiences to look out include porpoises off the Cowal coast and ospreys circling above Loch Earn. Like any national park, there are walking and mountain-biking opportunities to spare, but you can also settle back in the comfort of your car and enjoy a scenic drive on the Trossachs Trail.
Alongside the two National Parks, Scotland is home to 43 National Nature Reserves, internationally renowned for their wildlife and habitats; three UNESCO Global Geoparks containing unique prehistoric landscapes and billion-year old geology; and two UNESCO Biospheres where sustainable communities live in harmony with their spectacular surroundings.
Our carefully chosen little hotels in or on the edge of the national parks include Muckrach Country House near Grantown-on-Spey in the Cairgorms, Monachyle Mhor lochside boutique hotel in the Trossachs and Allt Na Craig House on the banks of Loch Fyne.
18 Nov 2021, 16:22